Anecdotal Evidence

I received this through the Air Force email grapevine. I can’t vouch for its authenticity; if anybody was there or knows of a differing view, make a note in the comments, and I’ll post an update accordingly.

That said, the story rings true, in my opinion:

Last Wednesday we were in Colorado Springs for the AF Academy graduation; featured speaker was George W. Bush. A little long winded, but the speech was punctuated with a lot of applause, which suggested that a lot of the military brass in attendance support him. However, what was more impressive to me was the fact that he personally saluted and congratulated every single cadet that crossed the stage, my son included. There were nearly 1000 cadets and this process took 1 hour, 40 minutes. I watched him through my zoom, and he displayed the personal touch all the way through: every cadet was saluted; the men were then given a hand shake and often a pat on the shoulder with his left hand or some other personal words; the women were all given a hug and some of the women cadets also gave him a kiss on the check. Occasionally a cadet would ask for a “wave to my parents” and then the cadet and the president would turn to the crowd and wave in the correct direction. He showed as much enthusiasm to the middle and last cadets as to the first ones — in fact, he looked like he was enjoying himself!

At the Academy graduation, the “top 10%” are noted as Distinguished Graduates (known as “DG’s” — the Academy doesn’t have summa, magna cum laude, etc.) and they graduate first. The rest of the graduates walk across by squadron (36 squadrons). 5 years ago when Clinton was there, he only personally congratulated the DG’s (takes about 10 minutes) and then he sat down. Bush was offered the same option, but refused — said he wanted to recognize every single graduate. This is the stuff about the man that never makes the news….

Here’s a link to Bush’s address, there’s also a video clip at the page.

UPDATE: A picture-laden page at the Colorado Springs Gazette confirms that Bush personally greeted every AFA graduate. Thanks to reader Eric Morisset for the heads-up and the link.

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31 Responses to “Anecdotal Evidence”

  1. syn Says:

    The reason why I support President Bush is because he views the Presidency as a position held on behalf of America, not on behalf of himself.

    I also like him because he is humble in the presence of the common person.

  2. Eric Morisset Says:

    Will,

    Here in Denver there was a front page pic of Bush yukking it up with some of the grads (couldn’t find the link, sorry).

    But here are some other links:
    http://www.gazette.com/afagraduation/index.php (Confirms that he shook everyones hand.)

    http://www.usafa.af.mil/usafa-images/class-2004/grad-2004/

    Keep up the good work,
    Eric

  3. AWW Says:

    Colorado is a state supposedly in play this election (i.e. Kerry can win it). Given articles like this I tend not to believe it. And hopefully Bush will help the GOP hold the Senate seat.

  4. Outside The Beltway Says:

    Beltway Traffic Jam

    The Monday linkfest:

    Don Sensing’s son, Stephen, is on his way to Paris Island to begin Marine boot camp.
    Craig Henry wonders why good intelligence didn’t end terrorism in Israel or Northern Ireland.
    Spoons predicts Sully’s latest pledge drive…

  5. vee Says:

    When he goes to his first military funeral to honor those that have fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan on his orders, I’ll be impressed. Until then, his actions in front of adoring graduates is nothing more then a perverse publicity grab without taking the corresponding responsiblity.

  6. Jefferson Park Says:

    Naah, you won’t be impressed even then – you’ll find something else to bitch about.

  7. HoosierDave Says:

    vee,

    I’m sure if the President had gone to a funeral or two for those who’ve died “on his orders” you’d call that a “perverse publicity grab,” too, right? Or you’d go on about how he’s using the deaths of soldiers to further his political ambitions, right? You folks on the anti-war bandwagon are fun to listen to, but your diatribes are becoming tedious.

    FYI, President Bush has laid wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington at least twice in the last year. At both of these events, he spoke movingly about the sacrifice of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  8. JonT Says:

    Which funeral should he attend?

    If he attends one he should attend them all rather than show favouritism, surely. But I suspect this would be impractical, as he has a country to run.

  9. triticale Says:

    He should do what LBJ did, and attend the funeral of the son of a White House correspondant.

  10. Matt Says:

    So, Vee, how many funerals must he attend for him to be sincere? I sure missed the part where FDR went to every funeral, or Johnson, or Clinton, or Reagan, or Wilson….

    (In fact, if I recall correctly, some of them never attended a single military funeral, but I could be wrong).

  11. Jeff Harrell Says:

    Okay, so this is a dumb question, but… one of those pictures depicts a cadet hugging another cadet. Her cover has come off and is flying through the air, and inside it looks like there’s a $20 bill and maybe some change.

    What’s up with that? Is that some kind of Academy tradition? Or did she just need a convenient place to stash her carfare?

  12. Duane Says:

    Bush not only shook hands with each cadet, he also:

    “gave 968 salutes to the graduates.

    He hugged 148 cadets.

    He helped 85 of them greet their families by stopping and waving to those loved ones in the crowd.

    Eleven times, Bush returned a high-five.

    Eight times, he showed he was hip enough to return the new-fangled fist knock.

    Eight cadets, all women, got to kiss a presidential cheek.

    And one graduating cadet successfully bumped chest to chest with the commander in chief without being wrestled to the ground by the Secret Service.”

    I saw the video of this when it happend a few months ago on the news, but can’t locate it now. The President “bumping chests” with one of the cadets was great!

  13. MartiniPundit Says:

    Bush's Personal Touch

    Will Collier over at Vodkapundit posts an anecodotal piece about when the President spoke at the Air Force Academy commencement this year: At the Academy graduation, the "top 10%" are noted as Distinguished Graduates (known as "DG's…

  14. Larry J Says:

    Those who complain about Bush not attending military funerals are simply ignorant of history. It’s very rare for any president to attend the funeral of military personnel killed in the line of duty. Wilson didn’t do it. Neither did FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, or JFK.

    I heard that LBJ did attend one or two military funerals, but that was the exception. It just isn’t done.

  15. Greg Says:

    For what it’s worth, Bush 41 did the same thing at a West Point graduation when he was in office – shook every graduate’s hand. The military recognizes – and remembers – that kind of stuff.

  16. Hogarth Says:

    The military recognizes – and remembers – that kind of stuff.

    Damn straight they do. That’s why the Dems worked so hard to have their absentee ballots ignored in Florida, 2000. They knew which way that wind was going to blow.

  17. Brian Finlayson Says:

    Jeff,

    After graduation, when the cadets are formally dismissed the entire graduating class throws their covers in the air (at the precise moment the commandant says dismissed the Thunderbirds streak over the graduation ceremony.) The kids in the audience of the graduation ceremony are allowed to run on the field and keep a cadets hat. Some of the cadets put money in their hats as an extra treat.

  18. Jeff Harrell Says:

    Excellent answer, Brian. Thanks very much for that.

    (I just always assumed that the newly-minted officers had to spend the afternoon after graduation picking up their covers. Your idea is much better.)

  19. InTheBullpen.com Says:

    Bush Congrats Air Force Graduates

    Of course this is the “stuff that never makes the news.” It’s a heartwarming story of a president with morals and conviction, however it’s not up to par with the anti-Bush rhetoric that the press covers. This is the problem with the media coverage. …

  20. Sean Kirby Says:

    Two of my sisters attended AF Acadamy. We moved back to Canada before I got out of the fourth grade though. Wish I got to knock fists with W.

  21. Bart Holden Says:

    So;

    Where was Kerry? Has he ever attended any military-type cerimonies such as graduations or…funerals? Has he ever been invited to do so?
    I would think the the “non-biased” media would have been all over such a story had that happened.

  22. Dean Says:

    Bart:

    John Kerry recently attended one memorial

    which didn’t quite turn out the way it was supposed to

  23. Justin Says:

    It was enjoyable to read about the Commander and Cheif taking the time to recgonize those graduates who are to go on and protect our country. People tend to overlook the small things like that. Im sure that President Bush wasn’t doing that as a publicity stunt. Ive seem the video and it seems genuine, plus it wasn’t advertised on the tube or in newspapers. However, I do rembmer the “Front porch chats” that Sen. Kerry had just recently. It was so cute, seing this Eastern Aristocrat snug on a porch in rural America. What the alphabet channels didn’t show was the media circus surrounding the front porch. But, im sure you libo’s outhere think that this is just how nice Kerry is. ALways looking out for the little guy.

  24. Justin Says:

    It was enjoyable to read about the Commander and Cheif taking the time to recgonize those graduates who are to go on and protect our country. People tend to overlook the small things like that. Im sure that President Bush wasn’t doing that as a publicity stunt. Ive seem the video and it seems genuine, plus it wasn’t advertised on the tube or in newspapers. However, I do rembmer the “Front porch chats” that Sen. Kerry had just recently. It was so cute, seing this Eastern Aristocrat snug on a porch in rural America. What the alphabet channels didn’t show was the media circus surrounding the front porch. But, im sure you libo’s outhere think that this is just how nice Kerry is. ALways looking out for the little guy.

  25. Mary Beth Says:

    You are right about the tradition of putting money in the covers. It’s the same thing here in Annapolis. The newly minted ensigns toss their midshipmen covers in the air and let them fall to the ground–then the kids are allowed to race across the field and gather them up. They usually put $1 inside.

    It’s also tradition for their families to buy them a new officer’s cover and present this to them immediately following the commissioning ceremony.

    And the new ensigns carry a silver dollar to give to the first officer who salutes them.

    FYI, we had Gen. Myers at this year’s commissioning and he also shook every single hand. His speech was a bore and uninspiring–sadly.

    Why, in time of war, didn’t the President go to every service academy commissioning?

  26. Jeff Harrell Says:

    Why, in time of war, didn’t the President go to every service academy commissioning?

    Honestly, I bet it was nothing more sinister than scheduling. The President’s a busy guy, and sometimes important things have to take a back-seat to other equally important things.

  27. MarkD Says:

    By contrast, when my brother got his graduate degree at MIT, then President Clinton was the speaker, and he gave out the first 10 or so diplomas, and every time a a pretty girl walked by he turned leeringly and checked out their behinds as they walked by… the woman next to my dad actually shouted “Keep your hands off her, Bill” at one point.

  28. John Weidner Says:

    Here’s the real word on presidents at funerals in wartime:
    http://www.randomjottings.net/archives/000171.html

    (It’s my post, but I’m quoting an expert in presidential traditions, Prof. Cori Dauber)

    In short, by tradition a president does NOT attend individual military funerals in wartime, for important symbolic reasons. He may attend in his private capacity if he knew the deceased.

    And Bush spends a LOT of time privately visiting the families of the dead, and visiting the wounded in hospitals.

  29. Jeff Harrell Says:

    And Bush spends a LOT of time privately visiting the families of the dead, and visiting the wounded in hospitals.

    Aha! That rang a bell, and I’m glad it did.

    Running a mile with the President

    President Bush came to visit the wounded in the hospital. He told Mike that when he could run a mile, that they would go on a run together. True to his word, he called Mike every month or so to see how he was doing. Well, last week they went on the run, 1 mile with the president. Not something you’ll see in the news, but seeing the president taking the time to say thank you to the wounded and to give hope to one of my best friends was one of the greatest/best things I have seen in my life.

  30. wheels Says:

    Unless it’s changed from my day, Mary Beth, the dollar is for the first service member to salute the graduate, not the first officer.

    One of my buddies got away without having to provide his own dollar … the oath was given first to those who’d selected USMC. Gary Bennett (who went Navy Air) put on his cover, faced and saluted John Theeuwen in the row behind him, who had gone Marine, and accepted the dollar from him.

    When I graduated, we had Nelson Rockefeller give the address. he only shook the hands of the top graduates, though.

  31. j.pickens Says:

    You don’t have to worry about Bush doing this greeting of the Cadets for the national TV cameras.
    He knew they would never show it to the national audience in a million years….

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